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Computer-based instruments are part of a computer (a board, for example), or need to be connected to a computer in order to measure and display data. There are several types of computer based instruments. Examples include computer-based spectrum analyzers, computer-based oscilloscopes, and computer laboratory instruments. A computer-based oscilloscope transforms a signal into a pattern or waveform and produces a graph of voltage against time on a computer screen. A computer-based spectrum analyzer is an instrument which can also be connected to a computer and is used to measure frequency spectrum of the signal. A computer laboratory instrument is used for the purpose of analyzing, testing, and verifying various concepts and equipments in laboratories. A technique called digital and vector modulation is popularly used for establishing communication between computers. Other computer based instruments are commonly available.

Computer-based instruments have a many specifications and function in a variety of ways. A computer-based oscilloscope has an external analogue to digital converter, which can be connected to a PC. A computer-based oscilloscope has several parameters to consider such as computer host, digital inputs, operating temperature, maximum shock, maximum vibration, analog bandwidth, and number of channels. A computer-based spectrum analyzer displays signal amplitude on the vertical axis and frequency on the horizontal axis. Computer-based spectrum analyzers parameters include form factor, number of input/output channels, and dynamic range. In digital and vector modulation both the digital and vector modulations are used. In digital modulation the information to be transmitted is converted into digital form and in vector modulation a single modulator is used to control both amplitude and phase. Computer-based instruments are designed and manufactured to meet most industry specifications.

Computer based instruments have a wide range of applications in the field of education and research. Computer-based spectrum analyzers can easily measure radio frequency signal intensity, frequency, and also power density through the use of calibrated antenna. A computer based spectrum analyzer can also be used to check whether a wireless transmitter is working in accordance with the federally defined standards. Major advantages of computer-based oscilloscopes are low cost, easy portability (when used with a laptop), easy handling, and capability of storage. A computer-based instrument can be created to resolve open ended design problems. Due to the low cost of computers, computer based instruments are particularly suitable for the educational market where equipment budgets are often low.